Methodology of Making the People


MALANKARA ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN YOUTH MOVEMENT (OCYM)

THEME FOR THE YEAR 2006

METRODOLOGY OF MAKING THE PEOPLE

(Janavatkaranathinte riti sastram)

Yuhanon Mor Meletius Metropolitan (President)

Introduction

We are considering here the methodology of transformation that should occur in our lives. It takes us from chaos to creation by the definite and creative work of God in history. The first example of this liberative work is seen in the Bible in the exodus event. Israel’s memory of this experience is narrated in the book of Deuteronomy Ch. 6 vs. 5 to 11. Biblical scholars call this passage ‘the Little Historical Creed of Israel’. What we see in here is the talk about how they, who were not a people, were made ‘the people’.

A re-creation of the creation is what is meant. First creation was an act of God to bring order out of chaos. The people of Israel, having fell back in to chaos, were in Egypt without an identity; oppressed, enslaved and helpless. ‘God with his mighty hand and wondrous works delivered them’ and led them to the Promised Land and initiated in them the making of the people. God told them "I shall be your God and you shall be my people (Ex. 6:7). This is what is meant by ‘Janavatkaranam’ or ‘making the people’. Since it is the result of a process (take note of the future tense in ‘shall be’), methodology becomes important.

The Church and the People

We are considering this topic at the backdrop of the theme ‘Malankara Sabha Vision 2012’ introduced by OCYM last year. In 2012 the Church will be celebrating the centenary of establishment of Catholicate in Malankara Church. As you know, Catholicate is the symbol of independence and self-governance of the Church. In other words, it is the symbol of ‘making of the people’. The question is; have we still become the people, whether the process of becoming the people is happening in the Church?

The Church is in the middle of century old litigation. Several dioceses are going through innumerable problems and the faithful are put to immense suffering and hardship because of that. On the one hand there is affluence in certain areas and at the same time poverty in other. Questions are raised about the human centeredness of our projects and of participation of the faithful at its implementation level. It is left as a question whether we truly have achieved freedom even when we are making preparations to celebrate the centenary of the establishment of the Catholicate.

God makes ‘the people’

We should constantly be reminded that ‘making the people’ is basically and fundamentally a divine initiative. God intervened in the history of Israel at a time when they did not have the knowledge about the divine and how he should be worshipped. That is why Moses had to ask for his name (Name reveals the nature and personality Ex. 3:13). Lack of knowledge of God creates unrest and chaos in community, and that is what makes them no people. Since ‘making the people’ is fundamentally a divine initiative, we seeing and recognizing the work of God in history and understanding the purpose behind it becomes the first step in the process. The statement of Jesus, "without me you can do nothing’ (John 16:6) need to be taken seriously. The example from Babel could be reminded here. That was a people who wanted to make ‘a name for themselves’ (Gen. 11: 4). To know the mind of God is crucial in becoming ‘the people’.

Community and Individuals

Again we need to understand that it is ‘a people’ that God is trying to create. ‘People’ is a community and not just individuals. Of course individuals as part of the community are to be taken seriously. But their existence and function are in mutual relationship and in togetherness. Individuals are accounted as members of the same body (Rom. 12:4, 5). In an unsaved and chaotic crowd you will have only individuals, not a community. This creates confusion and not order which is the nature of ‘the people’.

We also need to take the larger circle of humanity in to consideration in this regard. Every thing that happens in the society where the Church exists will influence the Church in ‘making the people’. While the whole world around us is in chaos and in social, political, and economic unrest how can we be the people? The cry of Isaiah "Woe is me, I am doomed! For I am a man of unclean lips, living among a people of unclean lips" is quite relevant. We are to repeat this cry before God. We the Orthodox Church as a community in the world should ask for ourselves, are we doing any thing to make every one around us part of ‘the people"?

‘The people’ and the Kingdom of God

It is on the basis of certain fundamentals, otherwise called ‘coercive factors’, individuals are brought together. The relevance of the individuals in the community is as the missionaries of these fundamentals. For Christians the fundamental principle or coercive factor is the ‘Kingdom of God’ inaugurated by Jesus Christ which awaits consummation in his second coming. This is what binds us together. ‘Kingdom of God’ upholds justice, peace and joy in Holy Spirit (Rom. 14:17). Therefore our responsibility is to work for the establishment of a community where these values are protected and cherished.

Plurality and individuality

As said earlier, togetherness and unity makes the people. Of course, we need to accommodate plurality among togetherness without compromising the fundaments. Plurality does not hinter the process of becoming ‘the people’ when it is used to enrich and strengthen togetherness and shall become a thing of beauty. The prayer of Solomon at the time of the dedication of the temple (2 Chr. 6:32, 33) is an example for an inclusive nature of ‘the people’. Jesus’ attitude to people who came to him further testifies this point. For him Jews, Samaritans, Galileans, tax collectors, women, sinners and fishermen were all potential participants in his community. It should be remembered that the existing community of Jesus’ time had made boundaries and kept ‘individuals in compartments’ that their unity before God was never accomplished and never became ‘the people’. The same sentiment is shared by Paul in Rom. 3:29 and 9:24-26. A fellowship that is universal can only make ‘the people’.

A caring people

Another important factor in ‘making the people’ is that this community should be a caring community, caring for one another. Participating in the suffering and helping to accomplish the dreams of others are the effective ways of caring. Paul in his Epistle to Galatians expresses this idea (Gal. 6:2), and he does so on the basis of the teaching of his master (Matt. 26:40). As for Jesus caring for the ‘little ones’ is the method of keeping our relationship to Christ. Caring is the fruit of love. ‘God is Love’ was a new theme introduced by Jesus. For him this love was explicit in God’s sending his son to the world (John 3:16). Jesus wanted this self emptying love to be reflected in people’s attitude to others (John 13:34). To help people to eliminate suffering from their lives and to accomplish their dreams as well as to overcome hurdles is part of the methodology of becoming ‘the people’.

A journey to the unknown future

A journey directed to the future is another factor in the process of making ‘the people’. Abraham was called, from the land of the Chaldeans filled with chaos and lack of understanding, to journey to an unknown future (Gen. 12). Jesus called his disciples to go out in to the ends of the earth (Mtt. 10:7; Mark 1:17). Of course Jesus shall be with us (Matt. 28:20), but it is for us to go. We can not therefore, find security in today’s comforts and refuse to go forward. We are called to walk towards tomorrow to the fullness of ‘becoming the people’ by accepting new methods of mutual cooperation and participation.

Conclusion

In short we are to, with trust in God, leave aside the tendencies of hatred, rivalry, lack of caring love that creates confusion and chaos amongst us, embrace every one in this created world for a just and peaceful society guided by mutual love and respect. This is the methodology of becoming the people. In 1 Pet. 2:10 we read, "Once you were no people but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy but now you have received mercy". We need to accomplish this in our lives.

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Pilgrimage to Truth


The Orthodox Christian Youth Movement (OCYM)

 

Annual Theme – 2005

‘Pilgrimage to Truth’

 

Yuhanon Mar Meletius, Metropolitan, President, OCYM

Introduction

The word ‘Pilgrimage’ here stands for leading a man’s consciousness to new and fresh pastures. Sometimes it is a physical displacement. But basically it is a quest for newer concepts and understandings. Here let us concentrate on a ‘Pilgrimage to Truth’.

 

The Problem (Concept) of Truth

Truth is a term oft – repeated by Jesus Christ during his public ministry. It was used either to indicate the divine authenticity of his claims (cf. Verily, Verily I say unto you or By Truth I say unto you) or to reflect the essence (spirit) of his existence or identity. (cf. I am the Way, Truth and the Life). Besides he used the term to reveal his mission when he said, “I should bear witness unto Truth” John 17: 37. The most important among them is the second one: revealing his self – I AM: No one dared to question or outshine his claims except Pilate who asked ‘What is Truth’? (John 18: 37). This is a problem, which we all face.

 

The contemporary world is highly complex – confused with claims, ideas and ideals. The good and evil   are inseparably or inextricably bound together. Humans remain embarrassed in front of the claims and comments made in religious, political, economic and social dimensions or contexts.

 

Religion and Truth

Jesus Christ was incarnated into this world with the message of giving rest and salvation to human. Many great persons who survived the ages have propagated the same message. But all the movements or organizations left by these historic people are now in conflicts by blaming each other or making false and contradictory claims. For instance, the community, which believe that God is Omniscient and Omnipresent, is now waging violent wars to monopolize the places of divine incarnation.

           

Conflicts have risen even in the basic principles of religion. Some say religion should aim at building a social communion and effecting a social liberation whereas some claim that religion is a feeling, which aim at gratification of selfish and superficial instincts. Some religious leaders want people more concerned about the life after whereas some give priority to life here. Here a search into ‘Truth’ is highly essential.

 

Truth in the Political Context

Those who come to power, having pledged to stand for the welfare of the nation and security of the citizens are later accused of corruption and mis-governance. Some are in favour of the war by pointing to the external and internal threats. But some leaders see the other side of deliberate attempts of asserting their power and financial benefits. The political parties and factions – “divided we grow!” – blame one another for ideals, personal gains and political games. The question is again ‘What is truth’?

 

Economic Context

There exists propaganda in favour of free market and liberal privatisation for the welfare of the people. But it is counter – argued by pointing to the dominance of market system and commodity culture, which make humans least important and their life worse than it is. Globalisation has invited foreign market controllers to India. Yet in effect, it puts the internal products at stake. Liberalised banking schemes and loan systems provide people with many avenues to get money to add to their luxurious life. Besides, even the unwanted are made inevitable by the post modern conditions of consumption culture. Humans struggles to get out of such traps till they “embraces” suicide. India is developing with the huge amount of money borrowed from foreign controlled banks. Where do we stand? What will be our future? What is Truth?

 

Truth in the Context of the Church

Truth is all the more complicated in the context of the church. One among the complexities is about the relative importance of the tradition and the Bible. Which is the ultimate or which is truth? Tradition? Or Bible? Or are they complementary, as our church believes? These questions are to be answered. The fast growing charismatic movements, which are centred round a self-made ‘super human’ is also adding to the complexity. Some stand for and with the cross, but some for cure! Some propagates fast development and material prosperity, but some for spiritual elevation. Do charisma means the exploitation of weak human feelings? What is Truth?

 

Again another relevant question is should the church get involved in social and political issues? Didn’t Jesus make a distinction between the physical and the spiritual, by stating, “Give unto Caesar what is due to him and to God what is due to Him”. It is debated by referring to Jesus’ remarks on Herod by calling him a fox. It is argued that the faithful should evaluate and respond to all those which make his destiny in the world and influence his life at large including politics. What should we do? What is Truth?

 

Conclusion

In short, human life is at its severe complexities. Truth is distorted: reality is misconceived. A re – search is inevitable. Jesus is Truth, Way and Life. Only those who know the truth can find the way to abundant life as conceived by Christ. No one does get to God except through Him. So let us open new horizons of analytic, evaluative and authoritative search into the Truth, which paves the way for new life. We are called upon such a mission of pilgrimage.

 

Bishop Dr. Paulose Mar Paulose Remembered


 

Encounter in Humanization: Insights for Christian-Marxist Dialogue and Cooperation by Paulose Mar Paulose

Published by Christava Sahitya Samithy (CSS), Tiruvalla-689 101, Kerala, S. India. This material was prepared for Religion Online by Ted and Winnie Brock. Published by Christava Sahitya Samithy (CSS), Tiruvalla-689 101, Kerala, S. India. This material was prepared for Religion Online by Ted and Winnie Brock.

Preface, by Bishop Yuhanon Mor Meletius

Bishop Dr. Yuhanon Mor Meletius is the Secetary of the Bishop Dr. Paulose Mar Paulose Trust.

 

Nelson Mandela, the legendary figure in the history of South African freedom struggle wrote about Archbishop Desmond Tutu, "here was a man who inspired an entire nation with his words and his courage, who had revived the people’s hope during the darkest of times" (Long Walk to Freedom p. 678).

These words come to mind when one begins to write about Bishop Dr. Paulose Mar Paulose. He was a unique personality and a special kind of bishop who inspired many and revived the hopes of the people. He was less concerned about the dogmas and doctrines of the church that often only helped to torture Jesus by dividing his community than about the plight of millions of people in this very world which Jesus came to liberate. He was disturbed about the institutionalization of injustice in the name of religion and God. He believed in Jesus who liberates people from oppressive forces of this world in their social, political, economic and religious manifestations.

Bishop Dr. Mar Paulose was not a member of any political party. But he was politically more active than many a party worker. He believed that human beings are basically political beings, and hence should actively participate in political life. Through the political involvement of individuals and communities a free and just society should evolve. In this process, there is no ideology or community that should be ignored or excluded. He exhorted that those who believe in God should join forces with all those who struggle for justice because liberation from bondage is a common concern of humanity irrespective of religion or ideology.

It was in this context that he entered into very realistic dialogue and active participation with the Marxists who are considered by vast sections of Christians as anti-religious. Bishop Dr. Paulose found several areas where Christianity and Marxism could cooperate for the creation of a new world order. He was critical of Christianity for preferring to keep the status quo intact and making people slaves to outdated dogmas, customs and practices that never addressed and represented the aspirations and struggles. His studies on Marxism and its critiques along with Christian theology helped him formulate this position. He found Christianity silent at several crucial historical junctures where the message of liberation of Jesus was to be put into practice. He found the institutional Christian community most often insensitive towards the agony of people.

Bishop Dr. Paulose was a student in the US at the time of American military involvement in Vietnam. Berkeley the University where he studied was a centre of protest against this and large sections of American Christians were opposed to the war. The Bishop participated in the protests against the American policy in Vietnam. This was the same time when he was influenced by the humanism of Karl Marx and the "religionless Christianity" of Bonhoeffer. He was very much fascinated by the life and work of Bonhoeffer who was imprisoned and killed by Hitler for opposing Nazism. Bishop Paulose found in Bonhoeffer’s writings a corrective for Marx’s critique of religion. That became the subject of his doctoral dissertation which is a plea for Christian-Marxist dialogue.

Bishop Dr. Paulose Mar Paulose was born on September 14, 1941, at a place called Chirayathu in the suburb of Thrissur in Kerala, as the youngest of the five children of Konikkara Antony and Kochumariam. He did his schooling in the Chaldean Syrian High School and college studies at the St. Thomas College, Thrissur. Bishop Mar Paulose did his basic theological studies at Serampore College, West Bengal and later went to Princeton Theological Seminary for higher studies. He was awarded Ph.D. for his dissertation on "A Bonhoefferian Corrective of Karl Marx’s Critique of Religion" form Berkeley Graduate Theological Union, California. He was ordained a deacon of the Chaldean Syrian Church in 1958 and in 1965 a priest in the Church. In 1968 he was elevated to the position of an episcopa (bishop).

When he came back to India after his studies in the States, he found himself in a situation where his principles were under test. Those were the days of the "Internal Emergency" imposed by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. Bishop Paulose who was deeply concerned about civil liberties and other fundamental rights of citizens realized that the Emergency was an attempt to crush democracy by an authoritarian regime. He took a firm stand against the Emergency. All those who craved for freedom and justice found a new friend in the Bishop. Here was a different kind of Church dignitary. He was welcomed in many places where Christian clergy had failed to reach. He was looked upon by a lot of people, in the Church and society at large, who had no voice. He became their voice. He was a good friend of the working class, exploited, oppressed and marginalized. His sudden death at the age of 57 came as a shock to all those who knew him and left a void hard to fill.

Bishop Dr. Paulose was the Chairman of the Student Christian Movement, Kerala, for two terms. He served as the President of the Indian chapter of the Christian Peace Conference and as the Chairman of the World Student Christian Federation. He traveled widely and participated in several international conferences and symposiums. He was the Secretary of the Episcopal Synod of his Church when he died.

It has been a long cherished desire of many who respected him, including the late E.M.S. Namboodiripad, the guru of Indian Communism, to see his doctoral thesis published. After the demise of the Bishop, his friends and well wishers got together to form a trust called "Bishop Dr. Paulose Mar Paulose Trust, Thrissur", to continue the work the Bishop had begun. The Chaldean Syrian Church graciously entrusted the rights of the literary property of the Bishop with the Trust. The Trust has already published a few collections of Bishop Paulose’s articles as books. Dr. Ninan Koshy, the Chairman of the Trust and a close associate of the Bishop, has done careful editorial work on the thesis for publication. He has also written the introduction to the book. The Trust is very grateful to the Christhava Sahithya Samithy, Thiruvalla for undertaking the publication of this book. We are confident that this publication will be of interest to a large number of people and will significantly contribute to Christian Marxist dialogue and cooperation.